Author Attacked by Ape!

I recently visited Gibraltar. Gibraltar is a UK territory attached to the south of Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is home to the Barbary Macaque Apes.

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I’m a person who likes a challenge; I crossed the highest, longest suspension bridge in North America, I swam with sharks. But, moreso, I like to explore; I saw a grisly bear in the Yukon, held a Koala in Australia, traversed the catacombs in Paris, etc.

So, I was there on the Rock of Gibraltar to get a peek at both Spain on one side and Africa on the other all the while standing in Europe. Pretty freaking cool.

The apes, which look more like monkeys (and are referred to as such), wander free there. They hang out on the patio of the visitor’s center, play in the trees and bushes, and hang out on the roads.

I did get close enough to one to have a photo. But I know better than to attempt to feed a wild animal. I did see four young women getting their picture taken by a park ranger while they fed one of the adult Macaque’s not far from the “Do Not Feed” sign.

From the visitors’ center, you can hike to other views, other places on the Rock and even all the way down. There’s another shop on the Rock where you can see a cave and buy trinkets, which is what I did. When I travel, I like to buy holiday ornaments for my tree as a remembrance.

I have the Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, a Santa Star Fish from Hawaii, and even a Santa Chili Pepper from New Mexico to name a few.

I hiked back up to the center to grab some water and lunch before taking the cable car back down to the city. ape.png

I’d been warned not to take a big back pack or food with me. The monkeys, they said, will jump on you. I heeded these warnings, had only a small pack/purse and no food.

But approaching the visitors’ center, one of the juveniles (juvenile delinquent!) jumped on my back. I raised my hands in surprise and she bit me. She then opened my bag, took the ornament, and hopped off. (This is the picture of the monkey as it tried to eat my ornament! Thank you, Geoff)

I’m okay. Maybe “attacked” is a strong word, perhaps assaulted is better?  She left a dental impression and some scrapes on my hand. Yes, a little blood, swelling, bruising. My doctor is a little vexed with me.

But what does this have to do with writing?

We must challenge ourselves, we must overcome, we must use incidents such as these as inspiration or fodder. I feel all of these adventures make me who I am and my writing what it has become over the years.

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I’m not suggesting you put yourself in harm’s way! I am suggesting that once in awhile get out and face your fears, do something new, experiment, explore, learn something new – this will create fresh shifts in your writing (and in yourself)!

The whole incident has me thinking of a half a dozen stories!

Who Is Noreen Lace?

I received an email which read:

I’ve finished Eddy and I downloaded and read The Gold Tooth. Who is Noreen Lace?

The sender later elaborated – These are two very different styles. I found this surprising as most of the authors I read are a single style in each piece of writing.

eddyfinalredonefromtresized                     the gold tooth

I’ve thought about this before – I feel it’s good to be able to change. To me, it shows growth. However, some disagree. Some people feel you must stick to your style because your readers have expectations and may disappointed.

For me – I want to be able to grow, change, and do what feels natural – just to write what comes out and not to force it to be what someone else wants it to be.

Stories are organic. They grow from the characters, the setting, and the force of its own motion; therefore, the writing itself must be organic which may grow into a different style.

If you know me – you’ll see the stories are still part of my personality and therefore personal style: dark, dry, ironic.

What makes good literature?

An extremely good conversation in my literature class about intelligence (Inspired by Ted Chiang’s The Great Silence). We talked about other species that fall under the definition of intelligence, which is “the ability to understand and apply knowledge.” parrot.jpgConsidering Alex the Parrot and Koko the Gorilla, and other species: crows are problem solvers and remember faces. We discussed dogs, cats, and others. Is love, as an abstract idea, understood and applied by animals? And then – is intelligence found in showing love?

This is what good literature should do. Teach, delight, and create wonder.

Read The Great Silence here

What’s So Scary?

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“Don’t be afraid of failure.  The reality is that most people successes rise out of the ashes of their previous failures.”

From a new documentary on Netflix titled Creativity. The narrator is talking to the creator of Game of Thrones. The creator is talking about how many times he’s failed.

I started this to say – what are you afraid of?

Then I wanted to ask – what if there was no such thing as fear? What would you do? What could you do?

I want you to think about that. What if fear was not in the human range of emotion or thought?

 

Defeat Creative Block

wolf.pngGive it physicality.

Give it a personality.

Describe it. Face it. Challenge it. And beat it down.

The Watcher at the Gate by Gail Godwin talks about creative block. One of the assignments I give my class is to draw a picture of what stops them from writing. Some of them draw a picture of an old english professor and some draw pictures of wild beasts. They report, that after giving their block a presence, they are better able to handle it.

 

Photo Credit

It Hurts!

yogaWriting hurts – no, seriously, sitting for long periods of time makes my back ache.

Now, we have standing desks, but studies show that’s only moving the pain around, not really as good for you as first thought.

My trainer recommends getting up every fifteen minutes to stretch and walk around. But, when I’m in the flow, three or four hours have gone by and I’ve even forgotten to eat!

Longfellow may have been the first yoga3to use a standing desk; he alternated between sitting and standing, which I think is a good idea.

Charles Dickens described his writing as “prowling rooms, sitting down, getting up….”; It’s purported he owned “all manner of comfortable easy chairs.”

It’s more about the way we sit and stand that is hurting us. Our shoulders coming forward and our heads hung puts far too much pressure on the back of our necks and can cause permanent damage.

Laptops don’t help. When we hadyoga4 our desktop computers, it was all about raising the screen to eye level, sitting in an ergonomic chair, with our arms at a comfortable angle. With laptops, either our head is tilted down or our forearms at a strange angle.

ChildsPoseNoBackground-300x165Yoga to the rescue! In order to keep our backs and legs healthy, there’s a few simple yoga poses (you could even do some of them at your desk!).

Spinx pose will help with those rounded shoulders and neck pressure.

Child’s pose and/or downward dog will also relieve some of the yoga2pressure.

Thread the Needle Pose is one of the best.

These are the easiest, but writers can benefit from a regular yoga class or a yoga routine.

 

 

The Secret Idea Store

Poe’s secret for inspiration is used by many writers today.

Poe scanned headlines, read newspaper stories, and gleaned ideas from the oddities. His goldstory Berenice is about a man who digs up his dead wife and takes her teeth. This is reportedly inspired by newstories of grave robbers, some of which left the body and took the teeth. Another story reportedly inspired by a news report was the Facts in the Case of Valdemar. At the time, there were reports of people who could speak to the dead; there were other stories of ways to prolong life. Poe, it seems, blended these and created a story in which Valdemar “survives” and “speaks” beyond his natural life. This short fiction was thought to be real. People believed it!

Inspiration, for me, has come from the odd news story. A human interest story in which a homeless man was selling stories on a New York street, inspired me to write $1.00 Stories.

Another story flickered to life when someone posted a handful of gold teeth and said she’d inherited them. How does someone come into the possession of teeth, not their own, and why would they will them to a family member? Hence, The Gold Tooth springs to life from my suspicious mind!

Scan the newspaper, and let your mind wander. We’re writers; we have the desire to  understand, explain, and create.

Happy Writing! happy_writing